photo via Philthy Mag
Even though I may not write much during these cold and dreary days, I do read quite a bit and spend too much time on the computer. Here are a few things that I came across this week. Enjoy!
Lupita Nyong'o gives a speech on beauty. Her voice is as beautiful as her face, and her words are the best of all. So lovely.
The latest from my cousin Tiffany. She was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer last year, and she has been on an incredible journey ever since. She's giving up the fight against it and has decided instead to live. This is a powerful post, and I feel privileged to have Tiffany as a part of my family.
The 5 questions you didn't want to ask about Ukraine. If you're still trying to figure out what the heck is going on over there, this is a good place to start.
How going undercover made me appreciate my privilege. As a white, reasonably attractive, well-educated woman with means, I can relate to this post.
Kids are assholes. Louis CK cracks me up. I'm giggling now as I think about this.
50 Healthy Habits Every Girl Should Have. How many of these do you have or need to improve upon? I'm doing okay, but I can always do better.
I loved this comic strip by Bill Watterson.
This photo shoot with John Schneider will move you.
This post at Hands-Free Mama resonated with me. I mostly use my phone for playing music at home, but I still want to limit how much I'm looking at it.
Marinated Chicken, Kale-Brussels Hash, Oven Fries
This week's new recipe, from Dinner: A Love Story. Wonderful marinade that results in moist, flavorful chicken. As I've said before, I'm not a huge chicken fan any more, but I liked this one a lot. The hash recipe is from the same place, and it's a good and different way to cook kale. The boys didn't eat it, unfortunately - they stuck to carrot sticks and pepper slices instead.
Homemade Pizza, Salad
Easy to pull together and perfect on a Saturday night after a day on the slopes.
Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage, Salad
This has always been popular, but I undercooked the green beans and accidentally bought the wrong kind of sausage. Ah well...it was alright, but this is typically a dish everyone gets excited about.
Potato, Corn, and Leek Chowder, Salad
A long-time favorite. The kids actually said "Yay!" when I told them it was for dinner.
Turkey Burritos, Yellow Rice, Black Beans
Veggie burritos for me and the little guy.
The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller. I loved this book. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where most of the world's population is wiped out by disease. It's different, it's poetic, it's moving. It made me want to go camping, climb into the mountains, sleep outside, stare up in the night sky and wonder what it's all about. I wish he used quotation marks (seriously that's just annoying), but that is really my only criticism. It will make you think about what you'd do to survive, and what you'd need in order to want to survive.
The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I liked this book. It's well-written, and it's thoughtful. The main character is an orphan - your heart will break for her, and she will break your heart. I was pulled in by the writing, the pace, the story...but I wasn't completely convinced by the characters.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. I'm not big into self-help or psychology books. I have always trusted my friends and family with my questions and problems. That said, I found this book to be extremely valuable. I bought it a year or so ago, because I was getting super frustrated by the boys' lack of listening. I was yelling too much. I have always felt that time outs were an ineffective discipline tool, but I didn't know what else to do. So I picked up a couple books to get some different ideas. This one doesn't have any easy answers (I didn't really expect any), but I learned a lot about the language that I should use with my kids. It talks about discipline, but also praise, how not to pigeonhole your kids into specific roles (shy, stubborn, smart, etc.), how to get them to open up more... I wish it contained more summary pages, but I think this is a book that I will keep on my nightstand and pick up often to remind myself of the way I want to communicate with my boys.
Another week, come and gone. Last week was a good one, catching up from a vacation week. It led to a nice weekend, and we managed to fit in one more day of skiing. Depending on the weather, it might be the last of the season for us. I'm excited about how much we were able to do this year and how much the boys improved. It's so much fun!
Now that ski season is coming to an end, I am ready for the snow to go away and for Spring to make a sudden appearance. We are entering my least favorite season - the wet, cold days of Spring. So many people hate Winter, but I am not one of those people - it's Spring that punishes me. I will spend the next two months waiting for the flowers and warmer days to arrive.
Looking back at my archives, I notice that I write less in these months. Perhaps the dark, muddy days aren't photogenic enough? Perhaps I'm grumpy? Probably both. So my posting frequency may stay reduced for a bit. Something about this weather reduces my motivation to write. I am heavy in thought, but I pull myself back somehow. That said, it is my big birthday month (40!). I also want to find the magic in the everyday as much as possible. We'll see how it goes.
As usual, I stayed up too late to watch the Oscars. No surprises, but lots of beautiful people and fabulous performances. The group selfie was probably the most fun moment of the night. I did finally see Blue Jasmine, which I can't say I necessarily enjoyed; but I appreciated it very much, and Cate Blanchett's performance is stunning. I still need to see 12 Years a Slave. Soon.
This week is shaping up to be a busy one, and I'm already looking forward to next weekend. My birthday celebrations begin on Saturday, with a day in New York with friends. I am so looking forward to it. Even if it is gray and cold, New York is magical.
Braving the elements. Cold, snowy days didn't keep us inside.
Marveling at the view from the top.
Feeling grateful we got that warm, gorgeous day.
Watching my boys glide down the slopes. Aaron loves looking for jumps and trails in the trees. Nathan has improved dramatically this season and is now fully independent. His favorite trail had a relatively flat, narrow part through the trees, and there were no other skiers around. He said he loved it because he could ski and have quiet time. I love that.
Spending time with the best of friends.
Taking a break from the normal home routines.
Watching the Olympics.
Enjoying a night out.
Relaxing in the hot tub each evening, appreciating the view of the mountain.
Reading. Thinking. Wondering. Feeling.
Savoring those rare quiet moments.
Soaking in all the awesomeness of my boys.
Preparing myself to re-enter those home routines.
Attending birthday parties.
Getting together with more friends.
Laundry, laundry, laundry.
It's a fascinating story, and the writing is gorgeous at times. I am not one to highlight, but there were times I wish I had marked some of the more beautiful passages. I felt for most of the characters, and I enjoyed the very descriptive writing. Very different from other books I've read recently, where you get swept up in the story; this author is meticulous in setting up each scene, describing everything to the tiniest detail. Sometimes, this is worthwhile, and other times, I wish she would just get on with it.
At almost 800 pages, it's simply too heavy-handed. I feel like the story could've been told just as effectively and more enjoyably with about 200 fewer pages. There were times I found myself skimming through some of the more descriptive paragraphs that did not advance the plot in any way. But then I'd get caught up in a gorgeous, thoughtful sentence that would slow me back down.
"Isn't that the whole point of things--beautiful things--that they connect you to some larger beauty?"
Overall, it's wonderful. But you have to work for it.
I feel like I didn't leave the couch this weekend, but when I look back, I realize I did. A pancake breakfast fundraiser at the school, out to see a movie with the kids, some errands, and an afternoon on the sledding hill. Fill in the gaps with a lot of Olympics and movie-watching at home.
I think I just wanted to stay on the couch all weekend. I was fighting a cold and felt like I was walking in a fog. I slept poorly and was therefore tired and impatient during the day. A lot of apologies on my part as I sounded like Mommy Dearest at times. They're boys, they're loud, they're slow when I want them to speed up and crazy when I want them to slow down. I know this, I accept this, but I do not handle this well when I am not at my best.
Even though I wasn't feeling well, I'm glad I got off the couch. The pancakes were good, the movie (The Lego movie) was funny, the errands are now done, and the fresh air felt good as I mostly watched the boys sled. It enabled them to get some of their energy out, which is an absolute necessity.
Although I stayed up way too late reading, as I always do when Kevin is out of town, I got a good night's sleep, and I woke up feeling whole again. I had a productive day, and I'm energized to have a good week.
It happens sometimes. An album comes out, everybody raves about it, it's at the top of a bunch of "best-of" lists at the end of the year...and still I don't fall in love with it right away. Then I give it another listen, and the timing and the mood is right. I'm totally digging Vampire Weekend's album this week. I honestly don't know what took me so long.
The new app everybody is blogging about - Waterlogue. It's pretty fun.
Doing a solid headstand in yoga.
Aaron keeps asking to help make dinner. All week he has chopped, stirred, poured, rinsed, cleaned... I need to find a recipe I'd be comfortable with him trying by himself.
Newport is starting to make their lineup announcements. It's like Christmas every few days, and I love the anticipation.
Another snowstorm in the forecast. I know this isn't a beautiful thing to a lot of people, but I love it.
Legos. Love both watching my boys follow directions and look with pride at a completed project as well as watching them put together creations of their own.
Forgetting what day it is.
Labels: little things
Happy Friday! We had a smooth week. Parent/teacher conferences, baking cookies, budgeting fun, and some extra cleaning that makes me feel like I'm actually getting ahead. I had an especially good yoga session this morning, and we're headed back to the slopes tomorrow - I feel great! Hope you all have a great weekend.
Here are a few interesting things that I've run across this week:
Five Pete Seeger songs to sing together. We lost a good one this week.
Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders. It's so easy to do some of these things, but it's so important to remind ourselves what is best for our children in the long term.
Extremely Long But Fascinating Article About President Obama. Seriously long, but a worthy read.
Mindful Drinking. I've been doing the same thing, not reaching for that glass of wine even when I really want it. That said, it's Friday night and I'm making something of the Mexican variety. There will be beer.
Solar System Tour. I'm a space geek. I just love this stuff.
Two posts from Momastery: This one, about the questions we ask in a relationship. And this one, that you should read and share. And then go thank a teacher.
Four Ways to Hear More in Music. Read this and then listen to a song you love.
Marriage Advice From a Divorce Lawyer. Written by my cousin, this contains a lot of great advice.
Have you read the post on Design*Sponge about the changing face of blogging? It's genuine and thoughtful. I think one thing she neglects to discuss is that there are different segments of bloggers. At least two - one that's trying to build a business/brand and potentially make a little money, and one that blogs for themselves, a creative outlet, communication with family/friends... It's thought-provoking, though.
Am I really the only one that thought Beyonce and Jay Z sounded awful at the Grammys? They are both beautiful, immensely talented people, but really...I was surprised to hear everybody gush about that performance. I watch the Grammys mostly out of curiosity. Almost every year, I am pleasantly surprised by someone's performance. Most of the music is not my preference, but I can appreciate music of all styles. I liked Lorde, Pink was impressive, I can acknowledge Taylor Swift's talents, I like Kacey Musgrave, and actually I think my favorite performance of the night was Kendrick Lamar. I am almost tempted to buy a rap album!
I am spending a lot of time with our budget this week. This time of year always brings a renewed focus on our spending, as we both recover from the heavy spending that occurs at the end of the year and attempt to cover the expenses that occur as we plan for the summer. It is no fun.
The southeast is getting hit with a winter storm, and my hometown is getting snow! A few inches of snow is nothing up here, but when it happens in the south, it is a huge deal. Schools and businesses are closed, traffic is ridiculous... It's a little funny to watch from afar. I hope everyone stays safe and that my nieces get to build a snowman.
Someone once told me that you are either an "inviter" or an "invitee". Meaning, you are either someone who is always asking people to do things, or the opposite. I wonder if this is true. I do feel like I am very often the one who is arranging get-togethers, and I sometimes get frustrated that more of my friends don't make the effort to reciprocate.
I have picked out most of the items I want to "finish" our family room. Pillows for the couch, a mirror for the wall, an end table... and I'll also want a lamp and big plant. But we can't afford any of it right now. See comments re: budget above. It's still fun to plan.
We watched 'Captain Phillips' last weekend. Intense, and very good. I haven't seen many of the Oscar-nominated movies, and I want to see more of them. Especially 'American Hustle', '12 Years a Slave', and 'Dallas Buyers Club'. Everybody is saying that 'Her' is amazing, and yet I don't have much of a desire to see it. 'Wolf of Wall Street' either. I do want to see 'Blue Jasmine'. What movies/actors will you be rooting for on Oscar night?
After a few weeks of regular and more frequent yoga, I can feel a difference! I am getting deeper into poses, feeling more comfortable in pigeon, holding wheel longer, staying up the entire time in crow, feeling strong and stable in dancer....it's a beautiful feeling.
It's Wednesday. Funny how the days hold less significance when you're not bound by the work-week. Kevin says "Is it Friday yet?", and I remember that feeling. For now, I look forward to every day.
Red Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
After a weekend that included lots of eating out, Kevin was craving a dinner salad. This is one of my favorites. I may have overdone the garlic/vinegar in the dressing a bit this time - it's a tricky balance - but this is such a great winter salad. The boys ate the sweet potatoes, walnuts, and green beans along with some fish sticks.
Almond-Stuffed Chicken, Asparagus, Roasted Acorn Squash
An old favorite. Aaron especially loves this chicken. Nathan especially loves the squash.
Penne with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce, Salad
I thought I remembered enjoying this pasta, but either I did something wrong this time, or I remembered incorrectly. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. I probably won't make it again.
Potato and Onion Frittata w/ Asparagus, Salad, Toast
This is my starter recipe when making frittatas. I added the leftover asparagus and a little cheddar on top. So good, and a very easy veggie dinner option.
Vegetarian Chili, Cornbread
We had this awesome chili at a friend's house, and since we liked it better than the vegetarian chili I usually make, I asked for the recipe. It's adapted from a recipe that she clipped from a magazine years ago, and I'm documenting it here so I have it saved.
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 cup of scallions, finely chopped
1 cup of cilantro, chopped
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
2-4 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can pinto beans, rinsed
1 can small white beans, rinsed
1 box/bag frozen corn, defrosted (can go light on the corn and add an extra can of beans - personal preference)
2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
Heat oil in pan over med. Heat - add garlic, pepper, scallions. Cook until tender (~8 - 10 min.). Add tomoatoes, chipotle pepper, chili power, cumin, salt, cook 2 more minutes. Add all beans, corn, veggie broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook and additional 30 min. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri. I liked this book. It's the story of two brothers from India. I hate reviews that tell you too much about the plot, so I won't. I'll just say that it's about difficult choices, decisions that impact others and last a lifetime. It's also about family. It's well-written, and I'd recommend it.
Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream, by Neil Young. Yes, I know...another memoir by a music icon. What can I say? Musicians fascinate me. Neil Young is pretty cool, and reading this book is like hanging out with him and talking over several drinks. Even though he doesn't drink any more. The book is all over the place - it's not in any kind of order, time or otherwise - and yet it works. He writes as I imagine he talks. He's led a pretty interesting life, and he is so passionate about his interests that it's fun to read.
I have been a fan of Juliana Hatfield for forever. I am really loving this partnership between Juliana and Matthew Caws (Nada Surf)...it's beautiful.
Laura Marling lyrics
January can be a strange month. On one hand, I enjoy the fresh start of a new year, the peacefulness and quiet after the noisy fun chaos that is December. I like snowy days and skiing, and I'm usually motivated to clean and organize. I schedule date nights and gatherings with friends, and I start looking forward to summer by making vacation plans. On the other hand, sometimes these cold and gray days make me want to do nothing except curl up in front of a fireplace with a good book.
I guess I've been doing some of both. I've been reading a lot, and I've been somewhat unmotivated to move through my list. I've craved silence and solitude. But then I have other days when I manage to get a lot done. I suppose that's a decent balance.
Lady Mary. Source unknown.
So what have I been doing lately? Well, last weekend was a good one. We got a full day of skiing in on Saturday, and Nathan is officially an independent skier now. Yay! I must say...I love having an activity that all four of us can do together. Watching the boys go down the slopes, side by side, is a joy. And I also love that it has completely changed my perspective on winter. I still hate it when it gets too cold, as it has been a lot lately, but I enjoy snowstorms more than ever.
We also spent an afternoon/evening with friends. The boys played, and the adults enjoyed good conversation. It was a lot of fun, and a reminder that time spent with friends is time well spent.
Yoga! Kevin got me a gift certificate to a local yoga studio for Christmas, and I signed up for an introductory month. It's hot yoga, which I haven't always liked, so I wanted to try out a few of the classes. I've been going about three times a week, and I am loving it. My shoulders feel strong, I find myself sitting up straighter, and I haven't had any jaw/neck pain at all. (That's where I carry stress, so to live without tightness or pain there is a wonder.)
Downton Abbey is back...thank you to the Europeans for not publishing any spoilers. I'm so happy it looks like Lady Mary isn't going to stay mopey and sad for too long. We also recently finished season 2 of Homeland, and unfortunately, it's been impossible to avoid hearing details about season 3. Is it still worth watching? I hope so - I guess we'll see.
Otherwise...dreaming of future house decorating projects, filling out school forms, making those vacation plans, buying lift tickets, practicing my guitar, sitting with the boys as they make their valentines, and the usual cleaning and cooking routine that serves as the overall outline for my days.
something about this house, this color. stunning. source unknown.
photos from Cooking Light, Dinner: A Love Story, and Martha Stewart
One way I start to feel more on top of things is to get the weekly meal planning under control. It should be an easy thing, but I swear it takes so much energy to come up with that list of meals! I have a decent list of standards at this point, but I get bored of them sometimes. I also want to make sure the boys are exposed to a wide variety of foods. My goal is to include one new recipe every week, and that's exactly what I did last week.
Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese Quesadillas, Black Beans, Yellow Rice
This one never fails. Members of the "clean plate club" all around.
Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce, Penne, Sauteed Kale
Aaron ate all his kale! Without complaint! Woohoo! It's amazing how much joy that gives me. Nathan at least tried his, but he opted for carrot sticks and pepper slices instead. That's okay too.
Burgers (Turkey for Aaron and Kevin, Veggie for me and the little man), Oven Fries, Salad
I cut the potatoes thin this time, and I only used olive oil, salt, and pepper on them. Baked until they were nice and crispy. Soooooo good! Clean plate club members again! (The boys ate the veggies from the salad, minus the greens.)
Butternut Squash Chowder, Baguette
Nathan adores this soup, and I adore having homemade soup in the freezer. Being able to pull it out, warm it up, and serve it quickly after coming home from piano....priceless.
Vegetable and Tofu Pad Thai
This was my new recipe for the week, and it was mildly successful. I added some snap peas, because I had them and because I thought it could use more veggies. I also think it could use more sauce - I'd increase it if I made it again. It also really needs all the extras - the scallions, peanuts, cilantro. Nathan did well with his, with lots of peanuts on top. Aaron started out strong, then decided he wasn't really a fan. I think I may need to accept the fact that my boys aren't huge fans of Asian foods. Hmpf.